2014 Kia Forte: Let's Drive to Vegas for the Holidays
January 2, 2014
Vegas would never be my first choice for a holiday destination, but when one side of my family decreed that we'd meet up in Sin City (instead of our usual spot: subfreezing central Illinois) the week of Christmas, my husband and I were obliged to make the drive. Never mind the annoyance of good weather, though. This would be an opportunity to take our long-term 2014 Kia Forte on a short road trip.
I hadn't spent much time with the redesigned Forte before this trip. Experience with the previous-generation car shaped my expectations, though. I knew I would enjoy all the amenities packed into our $25,735 long-term car but figured I'd find the actual driving experience rather dull, no more than adequate.
But after spending close to 1,000 miles in our 2014 Forte, I like our Kia a great deal more than that.
Honestly, the only thing I don't like about driving our Kia Forte EX is the steering. Even that's not terrible. It's just a few paces off the class lead if you want to talk about feel. Although it performs its primary function (turning the front wheels), it isn't sporty. Plus, I found myself making small corrections when I had the car pointed straight on Interstate 15, which wasn't a big deal but suggests that this electric-assisted power steering system could use additional refinement.
Then again, most Forte buyers won't be looking for awesome steering, and the rest of the car makes up for this ho-hum aspect. The EX model's 173-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, for example, offers very solid performance.
Passing maneuvers came easily on Interstate 15, and the six-speed automatic transmission was quicker than I expected to drop down a gear or two when needed. Full-throttle acceleration down entrance ramps felt good, too. This engine is smoother than previous iterations of this 2.0-liter.
Ride quality is also quite agreeable. Nah, it doesn't quite have that ratcheted-down, junior-BMW feel of the Mazda 3 or Ford Focus, but I could totally live with the Forte's setup day to day. It's comfortable, composed and quiet, and it hangs in there nicely if you pick up the pace around a curvy highway interchange.
And although I didn't have occasion to do any hard braking, the brake pedal feel during light-to-moderate applications is quite good, too. It's not too soft, nor is it overly grabby.
Ultimately, if you decided you wanted a small sedan with an automatic transmission, I think you'd owe it to yourself to at least consider the 2014 Kia Forte EX, not something I've ever thought or said about any previous small Kia. I'll share more thoughts from Vegas in subsequent updates.
Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 11,228 miles